So, one of the requirements of California’s state Medicaid insurance is that every year, patients have to fill out these health questionnaires. One of the questions essentially asks “do you eat fruits or vegetables every day.” It specifically does not ask about eating several servings of fruits and vegetables, but if you eat at least one fruit or vegetable every day.
So you can see how I am a bit concerned that the answer is frequently no. I couldn’t even wrap my mind around how someone could manage this. As far as I was concerned you had to go pretty far out of your way to not eat at least one fruit or one vegetable a day. No sliced onion and tomato on your sandwich? No tomato salsa and lettuce on your taco? How about ketchup? Reagan said that was a vegetable, right? But Medicaid patients are low-income. Fruits and veggies are not cheap, and often in low-income areas they are hard to find. Local bodegas carry few veggies and they often aren’t very fresh. Many areas don’t have larger grocery stores that would stock fresh produce. So pre-packaged foods and meats and rice and beans and fast food are the path of least resistance. I suspect they must eat some vegetables (at least onions and tomatoes in sauces) but they don’t even see them as vegetables since they are such a small part of the actual meal. They are certainly not snacking on fresh apples and carrot sticks.
This is why I am a huge supporter of urban gardens. I think shared community gardens are a fantastic way to get people involved in their community and also provide healthy produce to places that it might not otherwise be available. I love the idea of planting in every useable space. Unfortunately many cities do not support the planting of fruit trees in easements (which is why there are guerrilla fruit tree grafters). I understand this in some ways (don’t want to block sidewalks or cause them to be littered with rotten fruits), but on the other hand, it has a lot of potential as a way to get neighborhoods access to edible plants. Everyone could share the harvest. And it would make it much easier to grow things organically, too.
Many edible plants naturally don’t take a ton of room to grow; others can be trellised or trained into growing in a smaller space. Trees take a long time to get started, but then produce bountifully. Heck, even our spaghetti squash, which took up a relative lot of space compared to our other plants, gave us a pretty good harvest. I mean, one of those things makes about two meals for our 3 person family. So even if you only get 5 or 6, you’re still talking about a lot of food. Imagine if everyone on your block grew even a few plants, and then everyone shared around?
The first half of today’s spaghetti squash went towards experimental cheesy squash “muffins”. I used sweet rice flour as a binder. It’s really sticky. It kept the muffins together, but between that and the cheese and the already starchy squash they were less quiche and more cheesy mochi pudding.
They were delicious cheesy mochi pudding though. I put some jalapeño in half of them for me and Mr. DIY but left them out for the little one, who still doesn’t appreciate spicy (although we’re doing our darndest).
Hopefully I will be able to rework them into something more solid.
More successful was the pistachio-crusted tofu with strawberry-mustard sauce. I have this pistachio flour that needs to get used up.
I’ve done nut-crusted tofu before and I still haven’t mastered the fine art of keeping the nut crust on the tofu throughout the cooking process. (Heck, I can’t even get through the encrusting stage without making giant fingerprints in the nut crust. The Ener-G egg replacer is remarkably sticky).
I made the tofu in larger chunks because I like the crunch of the pistachio crust against the chewy tofu. But you might like your tofu sliced more thinly.
I like the sauce, it’s tangy and sweet. And super simple to make. Who needs all their recipes to have twenty ingredients, really? This is just sort of dressed up jelly. You could make it with any flavor you wanted.
- 1 block extra-firm tofu
- 1 c ground pistachio nuts
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp sage
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1½ tsp Ener-G egg replacer
- 2 tbsp water
- ¼ c strawberry jam
- 2 tbsp mustard
- ½ c. mild-flavored broth (chicken style or vegetable)
- Drain tofu and press.
- Mix together the egg replacer and the water until it is smooth.
- Mix the pistachio flour with the pepper and sage. Finely chop the garlic, or use a garlic press, and add it to the pistachio flour.
- Heat some canola oil in a large pan over medium heat until shimmering.
- Cut the tofu in half. Coat each half in egg replacer and then dredge in pistachio mixture until covered.
- Fry tofu in the oil until browned on each side. You may want to use tongs to quickly brown the smaller sides as well.
- Cool slightly, then slice the tofu to serve.
- Mix together all ingredients over low heat. Add more mustard or jam to adjust taste to desired sweetness/tanginess.
- Pour over tofu to serve.